Character studies: an interview with Bat For Lashes

Character studies: an interview with Bat For Lashes

Bat For Lashes - or Natasha Khan - is known for bringing her surreal musical worlds alive. The release of her fourth album sees her adopting the persona (and neon makeup) of The Bride, a woman whose fiancé dies on their wedding day. But beneath the conceptual theatricality and Lynchian aesthetic of the album, the subtly intricate songs explore Natasha’s own experiences with relationships and commitment. I spoke to her about love, art and happiness in the modern age.

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Next of kin: an interview with Liela Moss

Next of kin: an interview with Liela Moss

Following the release of their third album in 2011 and a long American tour, The Duke Spirit were exhausted and seemingly unable to shake the uncomfortable stance between obscurity and success that had always stalked them. The lack of motivation to push for another record coincided, strangely, with huge rupture in their personal lives. Within a week, frontwoman Liela Moss lost her step-mum to cancer and guitarist Luke Ford’s first child was born. So when I ask Liela what the London band have been up to these past five years, she simply leans back in her chair, a tired smile dancing around her face. Because everything happened in that time. Life changed.

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An interview with Xylaroo

At first, Xylaroo’s carefree guitar melodies and high flying harmonies paint a sun-drenched scenery in the listener’s mind. But there’s more than a sparkly surface to their songs. The London duo - consisting of sisters Coco and Holly Chant - write about being lost and lonely and drinking too much. And about the courage of carrying on, throwing your darkness aside for a moment and feeling unashamedly alive. Over email, I spoke to the band about growing up on the road and their debut album Sweetooth, out in June.

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Lift each other up: an interview with Girls Girls Girls

Samantha Lindo and Eliza Shaddad have known each other for over a decade. When we meet on the stairs of St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch to talk about Girls Girls Girls, a female arts collective they formed in 2011, the two singer songwriters haven’t seen each other face to face for months. Our interview becomes a catchup of sorts, where their work, ideals and friendship seem almost inseparable from the overarching subject of artistic sisterhood.

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An interview with Thao Nguyen

This is the first time Thao Nguyen from San Francisco-based band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down has used her eclectic take on rock to look inwards and explore her relationship with her absent dad. The result is empowering in its resilience. Speaking to Thao just before the release of her sixth LP, I’m reminded that emotional hardship is a nuanced experience, full of intensity.

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Creation myths: An interview with Sunflower Bean

Creation myths: An interview with Sunflower Bean

Having made themselves indebted to fuzzed up wig outs akin to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Sunflower Beans’ layered and melody-focused debut might come as a bit of a surprise to some. In an era where bands often are urged to pick a marketable identity from the outset regardless of their true ambitions, Julia, Nick and Kevin are going with their gut. I spoke to Sunflower Bean about growing as a band.

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Model behaviour: Julia Campbell-Gillies

Model behaviour: Julia Campbell-Gillies

Over the past months, Julia Campbell-Gillies has started popping up in my Instagram feed. Messy fringe and heart-shaped lips, the South African model and artist has a talent for looking bored and totally enigmatic at the same time. But it’s not just the dazed stare that draws you in. Julia studies Art Direction at Condé Nast and is acutely aware of the message she puts across, collaborating only with photographers whose artistic vision she trusts. I spoke to the 19 year old burgeoning creative about vision, artistic collaboration and the inspiring women she has encountered along the way.

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In Conversation with Throwing Shade: Human Rights Lawyer Turned Producer

In Conversation with Throwing Shade: Human Rights Lawyer Turned Producer

When Throwing Shade - real name Nabilah Iqbal - released her Fate Xclusive EP earlier this year everyone agreed that her textured and soothing digital sound defied genre conventions. But the DJ and producer also holds a degree in History and Ethnomusicology from SOAS, which she followed up by studying African History at Cambridge. I spoke to her about how music pushed her to put her barrister title aside.

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An interview with Chastity Belt

An interview with Chastity Belt

Seattle four-piece Chastity Belt can be described as a college party band that evolved into something more sincere. If their first album No Regerts (typo intended) was all about getting wasted with your friends and shouting “giant vagina” at frat parties, Time To Go Home is the moment the lights come on and you shuffle between the kissing couples, trying to find your jacket. Jittery with excitement ahead of their first London performance, I speak to Lydia Lund (guitar) and Annie Truscott (bass) about how growing up has changed their sound.

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An interview with Girlpool

An interview with Girlpool

The experience of girlhood is avidly documented, fictionalised and capitalised on, yet it rarely shakes you in the way that LA duo Girlpool manages to. Ahead of their gig at London venue Scala, I speak to Cleo Tucker (guitar) and Harmony Tividad (bass) about their creative bond, minimalism and why vulnerability is so important.

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More than any other: Ought

More than any other: Ought

“Has there ever been a better time to be alive?” says Tim Darcy, vocalist and guitarist of Montreal-based band Ought. It’s a rhetorical question, and a surprising one at that, if you consider the socially abrasive quality of some of their songs. Then again, it’s lighter moments like this that lift the four piece above your usual introspective rock outfit. Speaking to Tim at the end of a US tour,  we discuss how Ought manages to turn the static fog of postmodern existence into something hopeful.

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An interview with PINS

Manchester four-piece PINS wasn’t Faith Vern's first attempt at starting a band, but it was the one that stuck. Tiring of feeling like the token girl in all-male ventures with little or no creative authority, she purposely sought out female musicians to start pop-punk band PINS. When I call her up on an August evening three years later, the band have recently returned from touring the US with their second record Wild Nights. We talk about her DIY approach to music and the cathartic nature of singing.

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An interview with Samantha Crain

An interview with Samantha Crain

What is a modern folk song? The answer could be Killer, the first track on Samantha Crain’s new record Under Branch and Thorn and Tree. Interweaving stories the singer songwriter encountered in the camps of The Occupy Movement, the song carries a political message balancing wearily on an irregular drum beat. While briefly in London, Samantha meets me for coffee and we chat about the 99 percent, equality and channelling political frustrations through music.

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Lucid, Dreaming: Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Lucid, Dreaming: Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Jaakko Eino Kalevi's breakthrough EP ‘Dreamzone’ (2013) bears the same name as a Finnish dream forum, from which the lyrics of some of his songs have been translated almost verbatim. The otherworldly sound of the new self-titled record was developed in the same unusual electronic pop vein; except for the saxophone the Finnish musician plays all the instruments himself. I spoke to Jaakko about everyday surrealism and the ideas behind his sound.

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An Interview with Petite Meller

An Interview with Petite Meller

New French act Petite Meller makes eccentric pop influenced by jazz and psychoanalytic ideas of the libidinal subconscious. In one video, she clings childlike to the chest of a man who carries her to the suburbs and rooftops of New York, whilst another explores her childhood fantasies in the south of France, wearing a baby’s hat. In the video for upcoming single Baby Love, she goes to Kenya and discovers a choir of schoolgirls, singing and dancing and kicking up dust in the sand. I spoke to her about the meaning behind some of her songs.

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An Interview with Sonnymoon

Anna Wise and Dane Orr became friends when they moved into the same flat and spent the next few wintry weeks listening to Beatles covers. Now they make strange music under the name Sonnymoon, balancing meditative rhythms and poetic lyricism with genre-bending electronic bursts. I asked Anna about their upcoming album, The Courage of Present Times, and the meaning of pop.

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An Interview with José González

An Interview with José González

The word ‘vestige’ has two meanings. There’s the biological term of an organ or organism which through time has lost its function, and there's the cultural definition, referring to a remnant of something that is disappearing or no longer exists. The word loosely ties together the songs on José González’s new record Vestiges and Claws, the Swedish singer/songwriter’s first solo album in seven years, on which he holds on to a feeling almost forgotten. I spoke to him about solo songwriting and creative tricks.

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Me and You for 22: Jon Warren and Guy Miller Have Been Friends Since They Were Ten

It’s spring in Camberley, a commuter belt suburb south-west of London. There are family-sized cars parked in the driveways, pointy roofs, a cinema complex. Jon is a talkative ten-year-old at the local school who is kept in constant circulation around the classroom to not distract his peers. One day he sits next to Guy, the new kid with an American accent. 22 years later, I spoke to the pair about finding a friend for life.

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